Category: Action Required

fitness, active lifestyle

Help Support Gary & MPN Research Foundation

This story is the epitome of a LiFE is NOW… moment, and we are pushing to help support Gary and the MPN Research Foundation. We are pledging $10 of every select Mountain High product sold will go to MPN Research in Gary’s name. Click here to purchase Mountain High gear and support Gary. Rather, however, than try to write the story we will let Gary tell it as he has on is Facebook account.

Gary in his Mountain High tee for MPN research

As an avid hiker I assumed the pain in my toes was from my descents down the mountains but when it didn’t go away I assumed it was something else. I tried insoles. I went to the podiatrist but the burning still occurred. The frequency increased. This past December 2021 my doctor ordered blood tests. Those tests detected an elevated platelet count and I was sent to an oncologist who did more blood tests that detected a JAK 2 mutation. I had no idea what that was. The oncologist told me I had Essential Thrombocytosis, a blood cancer known as a Myoproliferative Neoplasm. Once I heard “blood cancer” I think I heard the doctor’s every-other-word. I was shocked and couldn’t believe it. I decided to go to Boston to get a second opinion. Dr. Hobbs, from MGH, ordered more blood work and a bone biopsy. I was then diagnosed with Polycythemia Vera, another Myoproliferative Neoplasm, a blood cancer that elevates red blood cells and can effect platelet count. PV trumps ET. She recommended I immediately start phlebotomy therapy every two weeks. Having a fear of needles this was, and still is, a harrowing thought. When the doctor told me I had a rare blood cancer, that word “cancer” hit me hard. What did I need to do? How much time did I have? What will Jess do? Is my will in order? Should I arrange my funeral so my family doesn’t have to? I need to repair everything on the house that I’ve been putting off. Do I tell my kids? My Dad can’t lose a third child before he passes!

The word “Cancer” holds so much power if we let it. I asked my doctor how much time I had. She said as long as I follow all of the recommendations I should live at least another 14-20 years, if not longer. I needed to do everything possible to combat a blood clot and hope that it did not mutate into Leukemia. Okay, what do I need to do?

She gave me a list:

1.Lose weight; (I then dropped 30 pounds since Christmas and the Cougars Den’s profits fell 33%)

2. Follow a heart healthy diet and stay away from iron-rich foods

3. Stay away from sugar

4. Stay away from red meat

5. Take aspirin every day

6. Undergo phlebotomy treatment

7. Exercise every day

I felt empowered. It’s a “Cancer.” It’s one that can be managed but not cured. I started to realize I had some control. This was not going to define me or stop me from living a happy & joyful life. “Real courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what” (Lee; To Kill a Mocking Bird). I believe optimism and hope are disciplines. I refuse to let go of them. With the constant support of Jess we carved out yet another plan. I told the kids. Yes, I started repairing the house, No, I haven’t told my Dad, there’s no need. I will not burden him with this. What next? I have hiked all over New England and New York including the “The New Hampshire 48- 4000 footers,” and “The New England 67- 4000 footers”. I have also done some hiking in Scotland. In my life whenever I face struggles I take to the mountains. It allows me to focus my mind and spirit on my “next steps.” It’s where I go to recharge. I needed to have a positive impact on my circumstances.

I decided I would attempt to hike a big one on my bucket list- the Long Trail in Vermont; a 272 mile (with 65,370 feet of elevation gain) hike from south to north through the entire State of Vermont, as a fundraiser. I always wanted to hike it- why not do it with a purpose? I have never attempted anything that would place me on the trail for this long. Success is attained step by step much like hiking. While hiking you will slip and fall, you will deal with pain and discomfort. You will be wet and cold, you will descend and ascend but you will also witness bucolic vistas, magnificent sunrises & sunsets, babbling brooks, majestic waterfalls, cooling rivers, industrious wildlife, smells and scents that feed the soul. Hiking is an easy metaphor for life. One that fuels my spirit. Once you ascend to the mountaintop you invariably descend to the col or valley only to eventually ascend another mountain. In Life we will have successes but “Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” Churchill. Those times in the valley, literally and figuratively, that is where we reflect, where we gain our strength to ascend again; to gain perspective and understanding. The trail trains my approach to life. Although the trail is long and the seed is sowed I’ll meet you further on up the trail. One sunny morning we’ll rise I know and I’ll meet you further on up the trail.

If you feel so inclined I would appreciate if you would please consider donating to the Myelproliferative Neoplasms Research Foundation (MPN Research Foundation).

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Diluted Drinks and a Watered Down Life?

Imagine sitting a bar with excited anticipation. It’s Friday, it was tough, productive week and the bar is buzzing. The bartender has already visited and taken your order. It was your favorite “start the weekend drink” and you are ready for it. You look around; people are mingling, conversations abound and everyone is starting to relax and open up. You see the bartender; they are selecting the correct bottles and mixtures; you know it’s your drink they are making and your mouth begins to water. Oh, this is going to be great; can’t wait. You hear the shaker, the ice makes a mouth watering sound as it sloshes around with the alcoholic mixture in the shaker. Now it’s being poured into the ice cold glass. It’s almost here. Just some finishing touches of garnish and it’s on its way. The bartender then gently lifts the elixir in its crystal carrying case and moves in your direction. Here it comes. It is placed lightly on a crisp white cocktail napkin with a smile. The bartender then walks away and leaves you with your favorite cocktail. The anticipation is intense. You reach out, carefully grab and lift the glass and move the elixir to your lips. The smell is vibrant and intoxicating. You take your first Friday sip ready to savor the feeling, but NNNNNOOOOOOOO!!! The bartender has watered down your drink. Your favorite Friday elixir has been reduced by dilution! ARGHHHH!

Well, the same can be said for life. Don’t we owe it to ourselves to give 100% into life rather than multi-task and water down the experiences that are happening right now. Diluting our senses by splitting our mind into past – present – future only reduces the full enjoyment of the moment you’re actually in. You wouldn’t accept a watered down drink so why accept a watered down life!!!!???

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One Human, Snowballs and a Paradigm Shift?

Recently a black man offered his opinion to  how he thought the world could be a better place.  His sentiments  echoed those of our own.  Now, the mere fact that we have to indicate the person speaking was “black” is  sad in and of itself (as color should not play a role in defining our ability to be moral, just and kind); but in order to illustrate the segregated nature of reality it is noted. 


This particular individual (paraphrasing here) said, ‘As soon as we start looking at each other as human beings (not black, not white or any other color) and as Americans, things will get better’. 


Agreed.  Think about it! It has to start somewhere. Someone, somehow has to set aside egos and past perceptions and begin to look at others in a different light. One person, one human being looks at another and acknowledges them as a fellow human; not a different race or religion or some sort of hurdle to overcome or burden to carry. Simply a fellow being, just like them. 


That person, in turn, then looks to another and the same shift occurs; and it snowballs.  This is the beginning of the “Paradigm Shift”.


What we mean by a paradigm shift is we all need to start considering things from a different perspective.  Set aside our preconceptions and egos and simply be human. Open our minds to alternatives.


A paradigm is defined as a typical pattern, a standard, perspective or set of ideas.  They are beliefs that go unchallenged for generations. We grow up being taught certain thinking patterns and ideas based on our community, schools, family or friends.  Our thoughts may change over time from life experiences or they may be further ingrained.  In either case, what if the ingrained patterns of thought (the paradigms) are outdated, immoral or just plain off?  What if the paradigms shifted?


And, what if the thinking patterns and perspective of everyone shifted in the same direction?  No black, no white, no democrat, no republican; just humans being human.  One human race,  moral and invincible.


It is noted that perhaps “…the greatest barrier to a paradigm shift, in some cases, is the reality of paradigm paralysis: the inability or refusal to see beyond the current models of thinking.”.


We believe as intelligent and emotional beings we can overcome this barrier.


LiFE is NOW…Help Shift the Paradigms

Paradigm Shift Tee

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A Deeper Meaning of LiFE…

Pocomo Head, Nantucket

So, we guess it’s time to find out what this thing is all about. “A tiny company with a big idea” – boy that’s really thinking big!. “Own it, Live it, Love it“- well, we own it so that’s good, we love it; another plus…but, are we living it?!. I’m not sure. Let’s travel back in time and review our founding principles which we’ve incorporated in our website in “The Story

We mention working for someone else’s dream and being perched (and toiling) behind a computer, strapped to a desk. Uh-oh. But sometimes, working for someone else’s dream is also a long road to your own dream. LiFE gets in the way. Kids, pets, college and family start to take precedence over that dream. But at no time is the dream extinguished; it’s kept on the back burner to simmer while LiFE runs its course; until it is time to turn up the heat. During this simmering phase, all is not lost and it’s not time wasted; as images, dreams and ideas are constantly permeating the mind.

One of our founding principles was to get people to recognize the moment of NOW and just simply live in it. Forget about yesterday and stop worrying about tomorrow. You’re only stealing energy away from enjoying the moment you’re in currently.

But is that enough? We don’t think so. We, as a community, are able to focus our energy at living life to the fullest; but there are those who by choice or by circumstance are either fighting for our lives or fighting for their own. We are able to live freely without worry because of those who selflessly give of themselves to protect our freedoms. Then there are those who are fighting for their own lives; either due to illness or tragedy. We thought both deserved recognition and help. Please consider donating or volunteering to help others (helpful links on homepage). You’ll be glad you did. Perhaps you’ll find a deeper meaning of life.

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